Postpartum Depression to Bipolar Disorder
Once upon a time, I was one of those people who fed the stigma attached to mental illness. Then one day mental illness pointed its finger in my direction and said, "It's your turn!"
Today, I am the face of mental illness. Today, I am doing all that I can from my tiny corner of the blogging world to help erase the stigma.
It all started for me as postpartum depression. I have three children. My last two have an enormous age gap of ten years. Within eight short weeks of giving birth to my third child--my body turned on itself, hormones raged, and depression settled in.
He is two-and-a-half years old today. The postpartum depression lingered far too long (over a year) to continue carrying that specific label. The diagnosis then shifted to clinical depression. When this again lingered and the symptoms excelled, I became the face of Bipolar II Disorder.
My point? Mental illness can strike at any time at any age. I had two successful pregnancies and periods of postpartum wellness. After having my third I was thrown into a very dark place. A place where blood was drawn from clawing my way out. Once I was out of the hole I had to plan my time carefully. Sometimes I was given a blissful couple of months to thrive and enjoy life. Other times, I was handed a mere few days until I fell down that slippery slope once again. It is quite tiresome.
On more than one occasion I considered giving in to the disease. That's what it wants. It wants to be fed in order to thrive and overpower its host. It takes a strong support system, a psychiatrist, a therapist, and/or medication to keep a person with mental illness grounded. A person branded with mental illness may have all the friends in the world and still feel completely alone and isolated.
Approximately 5.7 million people are affected with Bipolar Disorder. This translates to 2.6% of the American population. Shocking, right? Well that only includes those of us over the age of eighteen.
Next time you ask someone how they're doing in passing, take the time to listen with your eyes when they answer. We work hard at painting a perfect picture on the outside for the world to see. It only takes one caring person to sense the wounds buried beneath the surface to help someone silently crying for help.